Inwood residents are upset that 10 bus stops along the Q114 route that travels through the Five Towns community have been discontinued by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority as of July 2.
Officials from the MTA said the change was made in an effort to eliminate delays along the route, but bus passengers said they have had little to adapt to the changes, and notice at the stops was haphazard.
The Q114 line stretches from Jamaica through Inwood into Far Rockaway. Now, rather than proceeding off Bayview Avenue and onto Doughty Boulevard to Wanser Avenue and then Lawrence Avenue, the bus takes Bayview Avenue to the Nassau Expressway, and then to Mott Avenue. Only stopping at the intersections of Bayview Avenue and Doughty Boulevard and Mott and Lawrence avenues.
The new route minimizes the amount of turns, but cuts five stops in each direction. This concerns workers and congregants at some of the churches along the old route. Barbra Thompson, the administrative assistant to Rev. Dr. Gregory K. Stanislaus at St. John’s Baptist Church is worried about their congregation. “It’s a long way [to the nearest bus stop] …” she said, “We have a lot of seniors and several disabled veterans, it’s a major, major disruption.”
Kevin Ortiz, a spokesperson for the MTA said in an email, “The Q114 was regularly delayed in Inwood due to the railroad crossing at the Lawrence station. Delays also occurred due to the routing of buses along several narrow streets that slow bus speeds. The new reroute improves the route’s travel path by decreasing its distance and minimizing the number of turns.”
St. John’s Church was just a block away from the closest stop on the previous route; now any members of congregation who take the bus will have to walk nearly half a mile from the stop on Mott Avenue to the church at the corner of Bayview Avenue and Henry Street.
While Pastor Wilbert Pharr Sr.’s First Baptist Church in Lawrence, is located near the stop on Mott and Lawrence avenues he’s still been in contact with other congregations about the issue. “It’s very inconvenient for seniors as well as parents of young children,” he said. “When the weather starts to change how are they supposed to walk through the snow.”
The problem was compounded by what many in the community believe was a lack of notice. Signs were put up in advance at what were then the soon-to-be discontinued stops, but Thompson said they were simply taped up and many fell down. Pharr said he still sees people waiting at the defunct stops, though not as many as he did initially.
Altering the bus route has not only affected the congregations at the half dozen churches, it also hampers the commutes of those who rely on the Q114 to get to work, the local post office or the Lawrence Early Childhood center at the Number Four School. “They’re [the MTA] not really serving the Lawrence-Inwood community, Pharr said.
While waiting at the Doughty Boulevard and Bayview Avenue stop on July 28 one man who didn’t want to be identified, said he had actually gone to one of the old stops before having to walk to the functioning one. “I’m nearly 80 and thankfully I’m in good health,” he said, “but a lot of people who take the bus aren’t and any added distance to walk is hard for them.”
In a letter to the State Sen. Todd Kaminsky, Thompson said, “No mailing or public hearing announcement was made available to the community or Houses of Worship.” She believes that had this been more publicized the community may have had a chance to rally against it.
Ortiz said that the MTA had contacted several public officials, including Kaminsky and Town of Hempstead Supervisor Anthony Santino about the changes back in April and “We received no negative feedback,” Ortiz said.
Paul Glaze, a Kaminsky spokesman said, “Prior to the implementation our office had not received any complaints.”
In response to Thompson’s letter Kaminsky sent a letter to Daryl Irick, the president of the MTA Bus Company asking them to review the changes. “Many Inwood residents depend on the Q114 to get to work and other important engagements on a daily basis,” Kaminsky wrote. “I urge the MTA to reconsider their decision to discontinue service to these critical stops that so many Five Towns residents depend on.”
Santino released a statement with a similar sentiment. “The MTA Q114 bus is a lifeline for the hardworking men and women of Inwood. Cutting bus stops in this vibrant community is impacting those who do not drive and discourages people from using mass transportation, he said. “This callous agency is balancing the books of their bureaucracy on the backs of people who rely on the buses to go to work, church, temple and doctors’ appointments, as well as other destinations. I strongly urge the MTA to reconsider this ill-advised and insensitive action.”
Ortiz said the MTA would consider the request. “We always listen to what our customers have to say,” he said.